New York Employment Laws

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 What Are New York's Employment Laws?

Labor standards are what employment laws are known as in New York, even though they function the same way as laws do. These requirements safeguard workers while preserving employers’ right to make wise economic decisions.

What Does Employment “At Will” Mean?

In New York, employment is “at will,” which means that an employer may be entitled to fire an employee without good reason if there is no employment agreement limiting termination. Similarly, an employee is free to quit at any moment without worrying about violating their contract or facing other legal repercussions.

Dismissal for any of the following reasons is an exception to the “at will” rule:

  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Creed
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Sexual preference
  • Relational status

Additionally, New York protects against termination for engaging in legal non-work-related consumption of consumables, political or recreational activities, or union participation.

Defense Against Discrimination

Discrimination at work is illegal according to federal law. Among the protected classes are:

  • National origin/race
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical issues) (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability
  • Age (if 40 or older) (if 40 or older)
  • Constitutional status
  • Genealogical data
  • Age, lowering the bar to those who are at least 18 is prohibited by New York state law
  • Relational status
  • Sexual preference
  • Sexual orientation as perceived
  • When not at work, legitimate recreation
  • Military service or status
  • Political involvement
  • Respecting a holy day of rest
  • Political involvement
  • Utilizing a service dog
  • Status as a victim of domestic abuse

What Are a Few Defenses Against Sexual Harassment?

In addition to federal law, sexual harassment is prohibited under strict rules in New York.

Any unwanted sexual approach, request for sexual favors, or any verbal or physical behavior of a sexual character is considered sexual harassment.

Agreeing to a sexual proposal is a condition of employment, whether stated openly or impliedly, violates sexual harassment laws. Additionally, it is illegal to base job choices on rejecting an inappropriate advance or proposal.

Additionally, it is forbidden if the goal or outcome of the advance unreasonably interferes with a person’s ability to perform their job or otherwise results in a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment.

New York Reporting of New Hires

Within 20 calendar days of the employment date, the state must be notified when a New York employer hires a new employee.

Information needed for new hire reporting includes:

  • Name of employee
  • Address
  • Hire date
  • Social Security Number
  • Name of the employer
  • Address of the employer
  • IRS Employer ID Number (EIN)
  • If the employee meets the requirements for dependent health insurance, along with the eligibility date

In addition to or instead of sending a copy of Form W-4, employers may also apply online through the New York New Hire Online Reporting Center by submitting a copy of Form IT-2104. Forms must be sent to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance by mail or fax.

“Ban the Box” Laws

Employers should be aware of any county- or city-specific “Ban the Box” limitations or laws, such as those in Buffalo and New York City, even though they may not be state-wide laws (NYC). These might involve eliminating inquiries about convictions and arrests as well as possibly deferring background checks until later in the hiring process.

Applying the law uniformly throughout the organization, rather than only to individuals working in the area covered by the statute, is best practice for employers having employees in NYC and upstate New York.

Ban on New York Salary History

According to the New York State Salary History Ban, it is prohibited for employers to directly or indirectly ask an applicant about their past salaries, whether it be verbally or in writing.

It’s important to remember that companies are not permitted to decide whether or not to interview a candidate or what salary to offer a possible new job based on the applicant’s salary history information. Additionally, employers must be aware of local regulations that strengthen protections.

While largely pertaining to New York wage and hour rules, the Wage Theft Protection Act (WTPA) reminds businesses to have newly employed staff sign a Notice of Pay Rate as part of the onboarding procedure.

Wage and Hour Laws in New York

Employers all around the state have a common issue in adhering to both federal and New York wage and hour laws. Employers in New York are responsible for managing payroll compliance across requirements for the final paycheck overtime, meal and rest breaks, deductions, and minimum wage.

Minimum Wage in New York

Employers in New York have unique difficulties because the state has a variety of minimum wage laws that vary depending on where you are.

The following are New York’s minimum wage rates as of December 31, 2021, following the most recent changes:

  • New York City, Long Island, Westchester – $15.00
    • Tipped Service Employees – $12.50
      • $2.50 Tip Credit
    • Tipped Food Service Workers – $10.00
      • $5.00 Tip Credit
  • Remainder of New York State – $13.20
    • Tipped Service Employees – $11.00
      • $2.20 Tip Credit
    • Tipped Food Service Workers – $8.80
      • $4.40 Tip Credit
  • All Fast Food Employees Across New York – $15.00

How Do Tip Credits Work?

To meet the minimum wage requirements, companies in New York may combine “cash pay” with a credit or allowance for gratuities that the employee receives from clients. The tip credit is the name given to this concession.

Payroll Deductions in New York

Payroll deduction regulations in New York are simple enough. Employers can often only withhold compensation from an employee’s salary in the following circumstances:

  • The deduction relates to recovering an overpayment that was made inadvertently by the employer.
  • The employer is obtaining funds to pay back advances.
  • The employee freely authorizes the deduction in writing.

Such deductions are only permitted for:

  • Insurance costs
  • Health and welfare benefits or a pension
  • Contributions or dues to a labor union
  • Discounted parking or passes that allow the employee to use public transportation

There are a virtually limitless number of other situations in which an employer is not permitted to withhold an employee’s salary. However, there are some circumstances in which employers frequently err by withholding pay, including but not limited to the following:

  • The acquisition of necessary tools, gear, and workwear
  • Repayment of any losses suffered by the employer due to the employee’s actions, such as those resulting from product spoilage and breakage, cash shortages, and fines or penalties.
  • Fines or sanctions for absences that are excessive, unannounced, misbehavior, or tardiness

New York Overtime

Employers are normally required to pay workers 1.5 times their regular pay rate for any overtime they do over the course of a week, in accordance with the New York Overtime Law. If an employee’s compensation rate fluctuates, the average should be used as the standard pay rate.

Some positions may be excluded from the overtime requirements under specific conditions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the New York Minimum Wage Act, and other laws, including genuine professional, administrative, and executive personnel. Employers must submit an application for a position duties test in order for a position to be considered exempt.

Do I Need an Attorney?

You should contact a New York employment lawyer immediately if you think you have been illegally terminated or handled in violation of New York’s labor laws. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about New York’s laws and standards will be able to advocate for your best interests and assist you in getting the desired outcome.

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